Three points, job done. A trio of takeaways from FC Bayern v VfB Stuttgart
A win is a win, and we can be satisfied with the end result. The coach knows that the team can and have to do a whole lot better. If one needs any proof that a 4:1 win can be poor, then this was it.
Bayern started off at a furious pace, and threatened to destroy relegation-threatened Stuttgart before they could even draw breath. Former Red Markus Weinzierl’s team conceded with less that five minutes on the clock, and then had to withstand a series of red waves in what was a frenetic opening quarter of an hour.
The problem was that this fierce flurry did not last. Last week in Hoffenheim, Bayern had served up a masterclass for the entire first half before falling away in the second. Here, they slid into stupor mode midway through the opening 45 minutes. When Anastasios Donis stunned the home crowd with a long-distance stunner, visions of earlier struggles against lesser opposition reared their ugly head.
Not long ago, this Bayern side would put Stuttgart away with minimal fuss. Right now, this is no longer the case. The players still seem to believe that they can coast through these matches, and this is something that needs to be sorted out. Quickly.
Looking at the final scoreline, it is easy to conclude that this was a straightforward win. The reality was somewhat different. Having retaken the lead in the second half, Die Roten were unable to up their game.
Much like Augsburg, Düsseldorf and Freiburg before them, the Swabians started to sense weakness and smell Bavarian blood. When Nicolás González found himself with the Bayern goal at his mercy, it looked like it was going to be 2:2. Somehow, that never happened. The Argentine hit the base of the post, Manuel Neuer managed to grasp the ball when he had no real idea where it was, and the threat had gone.
The game could and perhaps should have turned around almost immediately, but Robert Lewandowski kept us all on edge with an uncharacteristic penalty miss. Not that it mattered. The momentum had swung away from the visitors, who did not get another sniff.
Despite Lewy’s failure from the penalty spot, Stuttgart’s game was done. There was a sense of relief at the Allianz Arena when Leon Goretzka took full toll of a mistimed leap by Stuttgart keeper Ron-Robert Zieler, and Lewandowski made up for what had been a flat second half showing with an excellent run and clinical finish.
It could have been even better, but sub James Rodríguez sent a free-kick narrowly wide with what was the last kick of the match.
The roll towards the finish whistle was comfortable enough, but we can in be in no doubt that the result was flattering. If Bayern play like this against better opponents, it is unlikely that we will see the same outcome.
Not that we should be worrying too much right now. The gap behind Dortmund is still six points, and the hunt is still on.